x-tra read all about the x-fever

 
 

x-tra read all about the x-fever

You may have noticed as of late, the deluge of X/Xtreme/eXtreme/Extreme names.
So has the Boston Globe who say all this X communication is no accident according to marketing X perts.

The Atlanta Journal has also noted that X marks what's hot.

officially all X names have been X-hausted!

Xpress yourselves, yo!

Hot products and artists with 'X' in their names are everywhere - and it's no accident, say marketing experts

By Joseph P. Kahn, Globe Staff, 5/3/2003

Feeling cross-eyed lately? Suffering from chronic X-ray vision? Relax. It's not your optic nerves playing tricks. It's the cultural eye chart, rather, that's become fixated on one letter. And one letter only.

Glance at today's movie listings, and they look like one long string of canceled type. Everywhere and anywhere, ''X'' marks the spot. The same holds true for TV shows, video-game players, youth sports, rap artists, even antidepressants. Kids' names, car names, you name it: The 24th letter of the alphabet is No. 1 with a bullet. A pop-culture totem as ubiquitous as the V-for-victory sign was in Winston Churchill's day.

''X2: X-Men United,'' the movie sequel to ''X-Men'' (2000), based on the Marvel Comics series about a team of mutant superheroes, opened yesterday. A week ago saw the release of ''XX/XY,'' a film about three college students in a romantic menage a trois. (The title refers to male and female chromosomes, not the film's audience rating.)

Neither movie is to be confused (as if) with ''XXX,'' last year's spy flick starring Vin Diesel as agent Xander Cage, an extreme-sports buff. Or with the ''X-Files'' movie of 1998. Or the long-running Fox television series that inspired it. Or the Japanese anime film ''X,'' released in the United States a couple of years ago. Or the X-ecutioners, a hot new turntable group from New York.

If that's not exasperating enough to make you stand outside the cineplex scratching your cerebral cortex, put down your copy of Wine X (''a young adult lifestyle magazine'') and drive to the mall in your Nissan Xterra, listening to the latest CD by Christina (a.k.a. ''Xtina'') Aguilera, while your twins, Max and Alexa, play an Xbox video game based on the new movie ''The Matrix: Reloaded.''

Extraordinary? Not exactly.

''One reason you're seeing it everywhere is that `X' has several connotations, including mysterious, X-rated - meaning sexy - and anything `extreme,''' says Barbara Coulon, vice president of Youth Intelligence, a New York marketing firm that tracks youth-culture trends. ''It means pushing the limits, or even off-limits. You're seeing it tagged onto all sorts of stuff now, not just things like extreme sports.''

To Chad Farmer of Lambesis Inc., a California advertising agency with its own finger on the youth-culture pulse, ''X'' represents the ''intangible connection between the unknown, mortality, alienation, and ecstasy'' in postmodern America. Says Farmer, ''Marketers have increasingly employed the letter `X' to attribute almost mystical qualities to products they hope will then have greater appeal to a wide target.''

From alternative music (Xzibit, Sex Pistols) to cutting-edge sports (BMX bike racing, XFL football), from cool new technology (Mac OS X, Imax films) to designer drugs (Ecstasy, Xanax), says Farmer, the postboomer generation of 20- and 30-somethings - a generation highly coveted by advertisers - responds to anything ''X'' as signifying ''the promise of things yet to be discovered'' and the ''ecstasy of really `being alive.'''

Okaaay.

How did we get to this cultural crossroads? Coulon and others trace its origins back a decade or more to 1992, with the publication of ''Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture,'' Douglas Coupland's field guide to the post-baby boom generation. That same year brought Spike Lee's biopic ''Malcolm X'' and such minor artifacts as ''Xodus,'' a rap album by the group X-Clan (fronted by the artist known as Professor X, not to be confused with DJ Terminator X of Public Enemy, or X, the '80s West Coast punk band).

While Coupland renamed a whole generation, Lee repackaged the fiery civil-rights leader of the 1960s for mainstream audiences. The ''X'' baseball cap Lee wore promoting the film became a fashion statement. Three years later, in 1995, ESPN marked another Zeitgeist milestone when it aired the Extreme Games - since shortened to the X Games - and made daredevil sports such as snowboarding (now an Olympic competition) part of the mainstream, too.

Almost overnight, the letter ''X'' became a whole lot hipper than, say, Q or Z.

Generation X was named with echoes of ''Brand X'' in mind, a generation famously eschewing traditional product loyalties, says Boston University communications professor Susan Perinio. Ironically, its members are now watching their most cherished symbol turned into the Golden Arches of cultural cool.

''It's total synchronicity, like a school of fish all turning in the same direction at once,'' says Perinio of the current glut of ''X'' products. ''There's got to be some underlying law at work. I just have no idea what it is.''

From the bostonGlobe link which can only be found via the Waybackmachines cache of the article these days.
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Comments

tlevitz's picture

Re: x-tra read all about the x-fever

the real suck part of this whole thing is trying to find or create a decent-looking 'X' during logo design and whatnot.

Note to whoever's coming up with the next big thing: pick me a word with some good characters. I like A's...

dabitch's picture

Re: Re: x-tra read all about the x-fever

i'm very partial to '

anonymous's picture

Re: x-tra read all about the x-fever

When we look back on the 90's (and I consider the X craze to definitely be part of that era - it's over already, people!) we will look at the X-names with the same sort of nostalgic amusement we look at all the 'blank-o-ramas' and 'blank-o'matics' of the 50's, and the 'K' craze of the 60's - Kwik, Kleen, Krunchy, etc.

Jane-o-Rama

anonymous's picture

Re: Re: x-tra read all about the x-fever

Now that I think of it, perhaps we should change our agency's name from TAXI to TAXXXI. Yo, that would be fresh, dog.

claymore's picture

Re: Re: Re: x-tra read all about the x-fever

I vote for the e

dabitch's picture

Re: Re: Re: x-tra read all about the x-fever

only at a retro agency party. ;-) "yo, look at how ironic we are". hehehehe.

dabitch's picture

Re: Re: x-tra read all about the x-fever

we'll look back at the X-names in exactly the same way we look back at the "super 2000" names on whiteware in the fifties.

spot on.

dabitch's picture

Re: Re: Re: Re: x-tra read all about the x-fever

i can't even find that on my keyboard.

so i wote for "o".

ha!

dabitch's picture

Re: Re: Re: Re: x-tra read all about the x-fever

I'll second that. I haven't seen e

AnonymousCoward's picture

Re: Re: x-tra read all about the x-fever

William Gibson, author of "Neuromancer" and coiner of "cyberspace" says that the modifier, "cyber-" is becoming as dated as "electro-". When everything is electric, electro- just sounds redundant and silly. Cyber-, in its ubiquity, is getting pretty hackneyed, too.

Electro-Jimmy T

dabitch's picture

Re: x-tra read all about the x-fever

No matter how silly you guys get - your posts are Xtremly useful. Now I finally have ammo to convince my agency NOT to go with an Xname!

dabitch's picture

Re: Re: x-tra read all about the x-fever

meanwhile, I just got an "X-client" brief on my desk. I nearly died laughing.

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